Heather-Marie Montilla has been hired as the new executive director of the Pequot Library.

Montilla will replace Martha Gates Lord, who took over as executive director two and a half years ago, and is retiring.

"I am retiring from full-time employment in order to have more personal flexibility to enjoy family, friends and other interests," Lord said in a news release from the library. "It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve our community by leading this remarkable institution."

Hired by the board of trustees of the privately held library in the Southport section of town, Montilla is the former executive director of Doing Art Together Inc., a visual-arts education nonprofit in New York City. She also served as director of development for the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College in Purchase, N.Y. Prior to that, Montilla was a development officer at Columbia University and was the executive director and founding trustee of the Ted Thomas Dance Foundation for the Public.

She holds a master's degree in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree from Duke University.

"The Pequot Library is such a special place, and I look forward to working with the talented staff, dedicated board and committed volunteers," Montilla said in the statement. "I hope to build long-lasting strategic partnerships with Fairfield Public Library and other libraries, cultural institutions, nonprofits and schools to offer high-quality programs inspired by our special collections. Through these collaborations, it is my expectation that the Pequot Library will have a collective impact on the Fairfield community and beyond."

William Russell Jr., president of the library's board of trustees, thanked Lord for her work.

"Through her leadership, and the significant efforts of our staff and volunteers, the visibility of Pequot's world-class programming, literary collections, and events has been brought to new heights throughout our region," Russell said in the statement. "As a greater number of people are enriched by the Pequot experience, the more our community realizes its irreplaceable value. A positive upshot of increased attendance has been Pequot's overall growth as an institution. This positive momentum allowed us to attract a number of highly qualified candidates in our recent executive search process."